Few things in life embody hope as effortlessly as spring training. Millions shiver and curse the slush, but somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright, youth swells with promise, and every team has an equal share of first place. Nowhere is this spirit more desperately needed than in Washington, D.C., oppressed by record snowfalls and blizzards of icy distrust. Enter Stephen Strasburg, the pitching phenom drafted first overall by the lowly Washington Nationals. A strapping fella with a record $15.1 million contract and a 103-m.p.h. fastball, Strasburg brings more heat than a Tea Party rally, with more spin than a busload of press secretaries. Washington feeds on the latest sensation. Remember that Obama kid from a while back? Switch hitter out of Chicago? All the righties complained that he favored the left side, while the lefties maintained that he leaned to the right. Strasburg is something that everyone can agree on, something new, a harbinger of warm evenings, popping cherry blossoms and blazing azaleas. A breath of fresh air, and not a moment too soon.